Artificial light nuisanceExcessive artificial light from a premises can cause a lot of distress for neighbours. This often comes from poorly positioned security lights, garden lights, flooding lighting from sports grounds or industrial lighting.
Under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act (NI) 2011 we can investigate and deal with excessive artificial lighting from a property (either residential or commercial premises) which is disturbing you at night.
The Act defines excessive artificial light as 'artificial light emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance'.
If we assess the artificial light as excessive we can then take action against those responsible. The type of action we take depends on the type and level of disturbance you are experiencing. Every case is different and there is no 'fixed' situation which can be classified as a nuisance. For example, lighting on trade and industrial premises, (and most sports grounds) the owner-occupier is expected to take steps to ensure that intrusive light is minimized as far as possible.
Every case will have to be dealt with on an individual basis.
The law does not cover:
- harbour premises
- railway premises
- bus stations
- public service vehicle operating centre (coach or taxi companies)
- goods vehicles operating centres (distribution houses)
If you are disturbed by artificial lighting there are two ways it can be addressed.
Informal actionTackling the source of light informally can often solve the problem. Neighbours may not be aware that their external lighting is bothering you and may be happy to meet your requests or make a compromise.
Choose a suitable time to discuss the problem and remember to be calm, polite and courteous and to avoid confrontation. You may also feel more comfortable bringing another person with you. However, if you don't feel able to approach those responsible for the lighting, or have already tried and were unsuccessful, more direct action may be needed and you should contact us.
Abatement noticeIf we receive a complaint of excessive artificial light we will investigate. We will assess the level of lighting, when it occurs, how often and for how long, the make-up of the local area, the effect on you and the likely effect on the average person.
We may also ask you to keep a diary recording the dates and times of each disturbance, or to allow our officers into your home to monitor the level of lighting.
If we agree that a nuisance exists or is likely to occur, we can serve the person responsible with an Abatement Notice, asking them to alter or reduce it.
If they don't comply with the notice, we can take the offender to court where they can be fined up to £5,000 (private premises) or up to £20,000 for commercial or industrial premises.
If necessary, we can also undertake works to ensure compliance with the notice and recover any costs incurred from the person responsible (owner or occupier).
If you are thinking of installing lighting on your premises, you should carefully consider how to minimise the effect of excessive lighting overspill on neighbouring premises to avoid causing a nuisance. Helpful advice has been produced by the Institution of Lighting Professionals and Environmental Protection UK